2012 DV Lottery to Begin

The beginning of each fiscal year marks the start of another U.S. Department of State (DOS) diversity visa (DV) “green card” lottery opportunity. The start of fiscal year 2011 (FY11) on October 1, 2010, means that it is time to begin another lottery cycle for FY12. The FY12 lottery program will allocate 50,000 immigrant visa numbers to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The DV-12 lottery program will start, like all DV lotteries, with an application process through the DOS.

DV-2012 Opens October 5, 2010

Individuals who are qualified for the DV lottery, based on country of origin, will be able to apply as of October 5, 2010. For many, this is a repeated annual effort, as the lottery is a long shot. However, every year there are many lucky people who do receive their permanent resident status (green cards) through this program.

The instructions (PDF 173KB) for submitting an application under the diversity lottery program entry are available on the DOS WebSite. It is vital to note the dates and times for the DV registration period. These dates are noon, Eastern Time (U.S.), October 5, 2010 through noon, ET, November 3, 2010. Registration is done exclusively through an online system. It is best to register early in this period, as there can be technical problems and delays due to heavy demand later in the registration period.

Winning is Only the First Step: Act Quickly

The DOS selects more than 50,000 applicants as lottery “winners.” Historically, winner letters are issued to more than 100,000 applicants. This is done in an effort to ensure that there will be 50,000 green card approvals under this system each year. Not everyone who receives the winner notification can qualify for a green card, due to procedural issues and educational and/or job requirements. Other winners will simply not take the additional steps needed to obtain their green cards.

The winner letters have detailed instructions regarding how to process for a green card based upon lottery selection. Individuals who are outside the United States will need to process for their immigrant visas at the appropriate U.S. consulates abroad.

Those who are within the United States will have the option of either an adjustment of status to permanent residence in the United States or consular processing. As mentioned, it is necessary for the applicant to meet all standard legal requirements for either the adjustment of status or consular processing procedures in order to obtain a benefit based upon the lottery selection.

Warnings: Fraud and Other Issues

The DOS visa lottery is a legitimate program through which 50,000 people are supposed to obtain permanent residence each fiscal year. However, there are fraud and scam efforts connected to this program that show up annually. It is important to note that the DOS does not charge any fees for submission of a lottery application. The DOS does not communicate by eMail regarding selection; they send letters. The DOS communications are specific, with the name of the applicant and other indentifying information. They are not generic, “dear applicant” types of communications. Applications are filed online, and most individuals file these without additional assistance. There is no preference given to cases filed through any particular organization.

Do Not Assume an Approval: Pursue All Options

As the name implies, the lottery is simply a matter of luck. No one should rely on the DV program unless and until there is an approved green card in hand. It is permissible to enter the lottery even if one has initiated a different type of green card case. It is also possible to start or continue with family and/or employment-based green card case/s, while also trying to win the DV lottery.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Most people enter the lottery without legal assistance. However, if selected, winners often need legal assistance to process their green card cases. The lottery operates under tight time constraints. It is important to file everything correctly, and to comply with various technical requirements within the proper timeframe. Thus, a qualified immigration lawyer can be important for the consular processing or adjustment-of-status portion of the case. Every year, we at the Murthy Law Firm help some lucky individuals obtain their green cards through the DV lottery program.


The lottery is an option for a fortunate few who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States, to receive a significant immigration benefit. The chances are slim, but there is no fee charged by the government for the initial entry, and there are 50,000 new permanent residents each year under this program. Those with questions or who need help with lottery-related matters should seek qualified immigration legal assistance promptly.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.